Travel Tuesday: the best view in Berkeley

It's impossible to capture the beauty of this outlook, but we gave it a try anyways.

As we slip into the ominous depths of midterm season and paper deadlines, it’s easy to spend our college hours slouching at a desk in Doe, scurrying from class to class or nestling under warm covers at the end of a demanding day. And even when we manage to scrape up a spare hour or two on the weekend, we flock under different roofs, congregating in frat parties, friends’ houses or bars.

But outside Fiji’s musty corridors and Dwinelle’s cramped classrooms lies a Berkeley that few people know. This glorious backdrop of our college memories is skirted by miles of wooded hills and trails that few students have explored. It’s dotted with placid, inviting lakes and winding mountain roads that seduce even the most studious cyclists with the promise of solitude, heart-pounding speed and breathtaking natural beauty.

This love for the natural side of Berkeley inspired Travel Tuesday. We want you to see your school more intimately, to delve into our city’s widespread opportunities for adventure and perhaps even dodge some stress on the way (after all, endorphins are a girl’s best friend).

The Reward

If you’re looking to seduce someone with a phenomenal view, Panoramic Way is a foolproof destination. Even after years of exploration, we still support this hilltop as the best view in Berkeley. Although this is not the highest vista of the Fire Trails, it offers an extremely broad yet intimate view of campus, Oakland and even San Francisco.

The Trek

There are two convenient trails that lead to Panoramic Way. Route A is considerably longer, flatter and more scenically diverse. Route B is steep, direct and easily navigable.

A.    Lower Fire Trail Route:

Begin on Centennial Drive, the road that leads into the hills beginning at Memorial Stadium. After following this road for exactly half a mile, passing the Strawberry Canyon Pool, you will arrive at a dirt parking lot; this is the beginning of the Lower Fire Trail. Though the moderate incline might make this part seem twice as long, you will take this wide dirt path for three quarters of a mile until you reach a hellishly steep, absolutely disgusting 200-yard slope (the Connector). Before you smash your computer and shun nature forever, please note that after this, you are almost done! Once you trudge up the Connector (10 points if you run it), there will be an asphalt road on your right; follow it for half a mile until you reach a luxurious brown building at the summit. Turn right onto the dirt path at the fork, but don’t go too far or you’ll miss the view.

B.    Clark Kerr Route:

Begin at Clark Kerr’s Golden Bear Track. First, find the dirt path at the far side of the track, opposite the pool. Walk past the beach volleyball courts, and within 100 yards you should see a dirt trail branching to your left (Stonewall-Panoramic Trail). A little under a mile, this steep, rocky trail will take you all the way to Panoramic Way. It’s a climb, but hey, how else were you going to burn off those post-Valentine’s Day/Easter pregaming chocolates?

Image Source: Katherine Velicki, The Daily Californian